NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the drought in 10 states in the country and pulled up the Centre for not releasing adequate funds to states for MGNREGA. It asked the Centre to provide details of expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states.
“If you are not releasing funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can’t pay anyone for MGNREGA work. No state will make any commitment to the people. Relief has to be given immediately and not after one year. Temperature is soaring at 45 degree celsius, there is no drinking water, nothing is there. You have to do something and provide relief on time,” theBench headed by Justice M B Lokur said.
“This year also, you will face problem. Things will not improve unless you provide funds. One more state, Rajasthan. has now declared drought. Now the total drought-affected states have gone up to 10. Total of 256 villages in Gujarat have been now declared drought-affected,” the bench said.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand informed the bench that Rs 7,983 crore would be released by the Centre in a couple of days towards wage liability, while Rs 2,400 crore material liability would be cleared in June. The Centre stated that Rs 2,723 crore was being released as wage reliability for drought-affected states.
ASG assured the court that the Centre was trying to do everything possible to help the people in drought-hit areas but there were some constraints. The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on Thursday. On March 31, the SC had asked Centre to tell it how many states had drought management cells and why no district-level disaster management authorities had been set up. It had suggested that the Centre, with the help of satellite data, analyse the expected rainfall in the monsoon season and take effective steps to tackle drought-like situations on time. The bench is examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan.